Vacation rental businesses often face specific challenges that only experts with substantial experience in the industry can solve.
Fortunately, asking for help when you need it is becoming easier, as an increasing number of highly-qualified vacation rental consultants are offering services in this niche.
Today, you can hire a vacation rental consultant to help you with anything from business development to marketing, performance optimisation to investment, revenue management to technology.
Whether you’re a property manager or a vacation rental tech company, these experts can help you take your business to the next level. Let’s celebrate them for the amazing work they do!
Before starting her luxury rental consulting company, Paola Gheis worked at technology companies like HP and Nokia for over 15 years. Most of her work was consulting business organisations to translate business issues into HR solutions – that’s how she acquired her consulting background.
She bought her first property 10 years ago, trained herself in vacation rental marketing and naturally shifted to consulting. Eventually, she moved to the luxury ecosystem and has been specialising in luxury rentals ever since.
Today, Paola Gheis Luxury Rental Consulting helps private owners and investors as well as managers of beautiful luxury rentals define a unique value proposition and communicate it in a memorable way. In addition, Paola is Family Property Manager for The Villa Italy and proud Co-Founder of LUXRE, the very first training conference exclusively focused on luxury rentals.
Services offered: Paola develops marketing and communication strategies using deep impact communication techniques. She also produces communication products like copywriting, video marketing, photo shoots, artistic styling and web design. She also works with clients whose premium properties have the potential to be moved into the luxury market.
“I help my clients to build a strategic storytelling and implement it to make sure they can proudly position their business in the international luxury market.”
Conrad O’Connell started working for a vacation rental web design company in 2014. That’s where he learned all about the industry and how to apply digital marketing to achieve more traffic and bookings.
In 2016, he launched his consultancy BuildUp Bookings and started working directly with clients. They primarily work with vacation rental managers, from 20 to 500+ units under management. Nearly all of their clients want help driving more direct bookings, and they hire Conrad and his team to help them achieve that goal.
In October of 2020, BuildUp Bookings acquired Guest Hook, where they provide vacation rental hosts and managers with copywriting, listing site descriptions and design services.
Services offered: BuildUp Bookings offers digital marketing services (SEO, Paid Search, Email Marketing, Social & Analytics). Conrad’s specialty is in search marketing, both SEO and paid search (Google Ads).
“We look for ‘alignment’ when we start working with a new client: this doesn’t necessarily just mean a budget that fits on both sides, but rather a common set of goals and capabilities that complement each other. I believe that VR companies should look for this alignment in goals and make their goals as SMART as possible – this helps set up the stage for the right focus on your ongoing projects.”
Daniel Rusteen worked in Airbnb’s finance department until 2016. As fate would have it, his life became 100% about Airbnb within a year of leaving the company. He started working for an Airbnb management company, then started his own. He’d already had some hosting experience and quickly became a Superhost. In addition, he started his consulting website OptimizeMyBnb.com to help other hosts make more money.
So far, Airbnb hosts from over 65 countries have paid Danny to help them, and he’s reached nearly the entire globe with the free information published on his blog, YouTube channel, and Instagram account. He’s also written a best-selling book for Airbnb hosts. Danny lives permanently in Airbnbs as a guest and has just surpassed his 1,500th night on the platform.
Services offered: Danny’s main product is Airbnb Listing Optimization, which comes in four levels, the most premium one being Elevate Host. This is perfect for Airbnb hosts with fewer than 10 listings – results are nearly instant, and Danny measures the revenue change within just one week after optimisation. He also sells other services like automated message templates and custom hand-drawn floor plans.
“I offer a host (pun intended) of services, but really, and I mean this, I prefer hosts not pay me. That’s because I’ve structured things in a way that all my information is publicly available. It’s better for the host if they take the time to dig through my material and really become an expert at their Airbnb business. However, there is one valid reason an Airbnb host would pay me and that is to save time.”
She has been working in the industry for 12 years and as a marketer for over two decades. When she moved to Andalucía, Spain from her native London 20 years ago, she already had a love for travel and discovery.
Louise started out in the short-term stay industry, as a travel blogger for a European city break company. After that, she became the editor for a niche Spanish OTA, developing content to support owners in marketing and managing their properties more effectively.
Today, her goal is always to create content that perfectly balances SEO and human-friendly content. She also works with her clients to help them nail their ideal guest profile and niche.
Services offered: Louise crafts brand stories and develops content strategies for book direct websites, OTA descriptions, destination articles and videos, social media posts and brochures.
“I love to work with owners and property managers to develop memorable brands that blossom into successful, independent accommodation businesses.”
Eric Mason has a long history in the lodging industry. He began to focus on short-term rentals in 2005, long before Airbnb came around. He joined the company that eventually became Wyndham Vacation Rentals and led their strategy development process as they acquired numerous other businesses.
Later on, working with various partners, he developed groundbreaking technology solutions for the short-term rentals industry. These included the first channel manager RazorCloud, acquired by BookingPal, and the first dynamic rate solution RateCoaster, acquired by RealPage. He assisted the founder of RealVoice in developing a real-time voice reservation service, and worked with numerous other companies and organisations.
To create a network of like-minded individuals, Eric started the Vacation Rental Professionals group on LinkedIn, which now has 14,000 members. Today, he continues to help companies large and small and works alongside his co-founder Richard Vaughton at Yes.Consulting.
Services offered: Startup mentoring, selling, partnership development, solutions procurement, coaching board member or advisory board services.
“It’s important for any consultant to also have operated companies, not 10 years ago, but more recently as well as consulting. Otherwise, you get the same regurgitated information from one engagement to another.”
Jessica Gillingham has worked in PR for over 20 years. She has experience in many different sectors, having started her career in the Canadian travel industry. She got deep into the vacation rental industry when she launched a booking platform to help travellers from outside of Canada discover cottages and homes. While that business did not survive the competition with the likes of Airbnb and CanadaStays, it reinforced Jessica’s love for the industry.
In 2017, she launched Abode PR, an award-winning B2B public relations consultancy and agency focused on raising the profile of transformative technology solutions operating within the short-term rental, hotel and real estate ecosystems.
The team of 5 (and growing!) PR and communications specialists work almost exclusively with technology companies (software and hardware) or enterprise property managers using technology to carve market share. This includes both established players and startups.
Services offered: Abode PR supports clients in gaining visibility, traction, authority and positioning through media relations, communications strategy, content marketing and thought leadership development. They often work directly with the C-suite and are trusted advisors as well as tactical implementers.
“We sit at the heart of the developing intersection between work, life and play in the property and hospitality markets, and partner with technology solutions playing a lead role in this transformation.”
Justin Ford has a unique background in the vacation rental industry. At the beginning of his career, he served in the US Coast Guard where he focused on boating safety. After starting to rent out his lakeside home in 1997, he moved on to co-found and operate On the Water in Maine, the largest vacation rental agency in the Northeast at the time.
Simultaneously, he joined the local fire department and worked his way up to Safety Officer. 15 years of being a firefighter, Justin’s background in safety, and his career as a property manager converged when an accident happened at one of the rentals he managed.
As a result, he learned that no one was addressing safety standards for vacation rental properties – and so, he set out to create the first safety inspection checklists. After presenting his work at VRMA, VRMIntel, and other industry conferences, he quickly became known as the go-to in the industry when it came to addressing safety.
Justin founded Dwell Safe Inc, which was recently acquired by Breezeway. He is now the Director of Safety & Certification Programs at Breezeway.
Services offered: Justin and the Breezeway team provide consulting services to vacation rental managers and hosts to help them prevent accidents at their rentals. They do this with the Breezeway inspection software and through their proprietary checklists. They’ve also created a Short-Term Rental Safety Inspector course that can help certify agencies to increase safety awareness and offer inspections to their owners.
“We mainly work with property management companies and vacation rental agencies, but also do work with municipalities, counties, and states looking to develop safety ordinances.”
What started as an idea to help hosts in Mark’s hometown Scarborough, UK get more direct bookings and become less reliant on OTAs has grown into a worldwide coaching platform with over 700 members.
Mark is also the one behind one of the most engaged Facebook communities for hospitality professionals, Hospitality Community, which has over 6,000 members.
Services offered: Boostly offers the tools, tactics and training that vacation rental hosts need to boost their income, along with actionable advice. The tools include website services and content creation, while tactics and training fall under a 90-day coaching program and a vault of over 80 hours of training videos focusing on the 5 key aspects of marketing your business: social media, Google, email marketing, text messaging, and word-of-mouth referrals/networking.
“We work with all niches of hospitality. Anyone who welcomes guests, we help get more heads on beds.”
Maeva Cifuentes got into vacation rentals by chance. She began working with Jasper Ribbers from Get Paid For Your Pad, running his blog. She met some of the industry’s most interesting people and has been deep in it ever since.
Today, she’s CEO of Flying Cat Marketing and works in digital marketing, growth and content with a heavy focus on SEO and organic growth. Flying Cat Marketing helps tech providers in hospitality and short-term rentals and educators who are trying to reach property managers and hoteliers.
Services offered: Maeva and her team design and execute content-led SEO strategies to help our clients become thought leaders and stop relying on paid ads, partnerships and word of mouth to grow.
“Short term rentals are a very specific niche—it’s important the agency or consultant you work with understands the industry. You may do fine with a generalist, but you’ll have to educate them and spend a lot of time teaching them about how it works. Your content partner should be able to show you their process and systems for creating high quality content at scale, and they should be able to provide case studies or examples that show they’ve achieved what you’re looking for.”
Simon Lehmann has held corporate executive roles his entire career, of which 15 years he was CEO. Before getting into the vacation rental industry in 2005, he worked in the logistics, supply chain and duty free industry and then moved into the airport ground handling sector.
Then, he had the opportunity to become the CEO of Interhome, the largest vacation rental company in the world, where he was able to drive change from offline to online distribution, creating efficiencies, and building multinational management teams.
Since then, Simon has enriched his experience in many other fields while holding board seats at companies like Homeaway, Vacasa Europe, MyClimate, and SEMG. He is an angel investor in several online travel startups with a focus on the vacation rental industry. Furthermore, he’s a speaker at various universities and conferences around the world.
As a visionary who’s always trying to stay ahead of the curve, Simon launched the boutique consulting firm AJL Atelier with his wife Cristina (the company name is made up of the initials of their three children). Their goal is to share their experiences in the international corporate and startup world and become the go-to partner in the vacation rental industry.
Services provided: AJL specialises in Leadership, Change Management, eCommerce, Digital Industry, Executive Management, Product Development, Marketing, Business Development, Costs Management and Human Resources, as well as helping clients looking for M&A opportunities.
“We support all stakeholders within the vacation and travel accommodation industries by helping them to operate and digitise their assets, develop strategies and technology platforms for management, and build global or local distribution solutions that fit their needs. We work with small and local property managers, technology providers, service providers and investors from venture capital to very large private equity firms. We also support executives to deal with everyday challenges from leadership to strategic development and executing business plans.”
Gianpaolo Vairo fell into the short-term rent industry by chance – and it was love at first sight. He was a property manager in the early days of Airbnb, and later worked with some of the industry’s most important tech providers. This led him to start his own software startup, Localler.
When this chapter came to an end, Gianpaolo many of Localler’s customers started contacting him for help to grow their businesses. That was when he decided to start his consulting project Vacation Rental Rocket, with a special focus on Southern European markets like Italy, Spain and Portugal.
For over 6 years, they have been helping any type of company – including property managers and software companies – in the holiday rental industry to start a new business, improve it and scale it up.
Services offered: Business development, product positioning and product development, hospitality events, education for hosts and managers.
“We give support to hosts and property managers and to product software companies. For the first ones, we help them by making their business smarter, making decisions by analysing all the numbers of their business (data-driven strategies) and using new technologies to sell more while reducing costs and dependencies on intermediated sales channels. For the latter, we help them develop better software products by understanding the real need of their customers (customer-centric analysis) and gaining the visibility they deserve leveraging our stakeholders’ network.”
Luca de Giglio
Luca de Giglio has been working in the industry since 2001 when he launched a precursor to Airbnb to fund his travels. He got into consulting a few years ago as a natural evolution in his career.
Through his consulting company Adormo, Luca is able to share his knowledge and perspective, including his deep insight into the role of blockchain in travel.
In 2017, Luca founded Trips Community, a company with a vision to build a decentralised, peer-to-peer booking platform on the blockchain. The goal of the project is to minimise transaction fees and reward participants for creating value by joining the community.
As a blockchain evangelist, he often speaks at events and conferences discussing technology in travel and vacation rentals.
Services offered: Luca can help anyone who has recognised that the web is changing get ready for the next evolution towards a decentralised and tokenised web.
“Right now, all I’m interested in is the transition of the industry to Web3 (blockchain). This completely took over any other interest of mine in the industry as I believe it will really change everything in the coming years.”
For Romain Giacalone, everything started in 2012 when he first became an Airbnb Host. By his own admission, he quickly became addicted to the feeling of meeting new people from all over the world, at home.
In just two years, Romain and his wife were nominated as Airbnb Top Host in France. Then, he decided to combine his marketing skills with his knowledge of short-term rentals.
In 2015, Romain published a book to help hosts to perform better on Airbnb. The same year, he joined the PMS BookingSync as Head of Marketing & Partnerships, and he founded his own property management company.
For 3 years, he worked behind the scenes of a software product that he himself was using as a property manager. Then, at the end of 2018, he decided to go 100% freelance and share his experience and knowledge with professionals in the vacation rental industry.
Services offered: On one side, Romain works with vacation rental software companies to help them grow in the French market, and has been supporting PriceLabs and Nuki in this way for almost 3 years. Occasionally, he works with other major brands in the sector such as Airbnb, LuggageHero, Roomonitor and Rental Ninja. On the other side, he supports managers and agencies in their growth, helping them automate and optimise their activity to improve profitability.
“The property managers and agencies that I support and help mainly ask me to help them automate their processes, improve their strategies for acquiring properties and improve their marketing and communication.”
Jordan Locke’s entire career has been in pricing and consulting. He was assisting with the pricing transformation of Whole Foods after the Amazon acquisition when a startup in town, The Guild, offered him an opportunity to build out their revenue management and business intelligence programs from the ground up.
Since entering the vacation rental space, Jordan hasn’t looked back. He has consulted many vacation rental portfolios, been featured in the Washington Post/USA Today/industry blogs, sat on numerous panels at DARM, been a part of ASTRHO’s Revenue Management Education Committee, and was recently nominated for the 2021 Shortyz “Rising Star” Award.
Jordan is the founder and principal consultant at RevPARTY Consulting, a consulting firm that has helped some of the top companies in the industry accelerate their growth.
Services offered: Jordan and his team provide services that address the entire sales funnel using a data-driven approach. They specialise in data analytics and revenue management strategy, which can also encompass pricing, listing optimisation, promotions, marketing, distribution, and education. They do offer some off-the-shelf products but focus on providing custom consulting engagements that are bespoke to every client.
“We work with companies of all sizes and our bespoke engagements help ensure that every project we undertake is a good fit. While we can help clients attain any goal they want, the ultimate goal is usually increasing revenue and/or profitability while saving the property managers time and money.”
Ben Edwards is a hospitality industry leader with more than 22 years of experience in vacation rentals. He started as an accountant for ResortQuest and has since owned/operated more than 15 of his own companies. He’s also worked with hundreds of companies in more than 200 destinations as a consultant.
Ben is currently heading Weatherby Consulting as President. He and his team provide strategic advisory and asset management services with proven results in creating opportunities and solutions in the vacation rental, real estate and resort industries.
Elaine Watt helps short-term rental hosts increase their bookings, save time and reduce costs through her popular podcast Holiday Let Success and consulting services. She’s created a series of easily accessible online courses, resources and templates to help hosts improve processes within their business.
Natacha Parmantier helps vacation rental owners boost their direct bookings and become less dependent on OTAs by using digital marketing. Her social media and paid advertising courses and masterclasses can help anyone acquire the necessary skills to attract more bookings and increase their revenue.
Vasilije Budimlija and his team at OptiRental help property managers optimise digital distribution. They are fully dedicated to enhancing listing performance on OTAs as well as alternative channels and increasing website bookings.
Ivan Meduri is the owner of RealStays, a consulting firm made up of an experienced team of professionals that focuses on real estate investments and property management. Their mission is to help their clients make informed investment decisions and improve their businesses. They also help their clients optimise their marketing performance and expand to new markets.
Ana Klancir is the owner of Epic Advice, a consulting and education company in tourism and hospitality. Prior to starting her business, Ana was an account manager at Booking.com and has extensive experience in the industry.
Krystin Krebs & Haley O’Neal
Krystin and Haley are the owners of San Diego Design Collective. They help homeowners transform their properties using their signature Standout Design Method. They deliver quick, turnkey contemporary coastal interior home designs for new homeowners, second homeowners, and vacation rental owners.
They offer their services at a flat rate per room, so there are no financial surprises. And they have three different level package options from do-it-yourself (with their help) to completely done-for-you.